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The Roundup for December 18th, 2014

By: Thursday December 18, 2014 3:53 pm

Phew, all done with finals! That means more attention to the Roundup and more pieces.

Regardless, how have all of you been doing so far this week?

International Politics


- Pew: In developing and emerging countries, citizens only vote and do little else politically; Do you smell that? It’s the smell of Western democracy

- President Barack Obama called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi concerning the mass trials in the country

Middle East

- Part one and two with journalist Lia Tarachansky on growing up in Israel and starting as a Zionist before leaving the dogma

- According to U.S. officials, some Islamic State leaders in Iraq were killed by air strikes in the past few weeks; Meanwhile, U.S. Lieutenant General James Terry said Kurdish forces successfully took over areas formally under ISIL control

- The United Nations asked for $8.4 billion to assist people escaping from the civil war in Syria

- No matter what, Russia’s role in Yemen is to ensure extremism from Sunnis are kept at a low and the country is stable

- Ali Abunimah: “Why I want Obama to veto Abbas’ UN resolution on Palestine

Asia and Oceania

- To monitor North Korea, South Korea will purchase drones from an Israeli companies, whose drones were used in attacks against Gaza.

- U.N. officials warn extremists in the Taliban are becoming more popular in Afghanistan


- According to a Libyan government official, production of Libyan oil dropped 60 percent in the just the past few days as a result of fighting.

- Meanwhile, Morocco will spend $4.6 billion to find natural gas to consume; I’m interested in learning more about these “private investors.”

- More than 170 women and children were kidnapped from a village in Nigeria by suspected militants from Boko Haram


- Gallup: Forty-seven percent of Ukrainians approve of President Petro Poroshenko

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

Journalist Reese Erlich provides some helpful information to summarize the latest decision of the U.S. to normalize relations with Cuba; Attorney Michael Ratner also talks about the overall context for this situation

Surveillance Planet

- Jeremy Hammond: “I’m an Anonymous hacker in prison, and I am not a crook. I’m an activist

- The White House said the attacks against Sony over The Interview are of national security concerns

Financial Matters

- Pew: The wealth inequality between upper and middle-income Americans are the largest on record

- A new report warned American companies who export coal are threatened not only by demand falling in China, but cheap Russian coal;

- Historian Eric Toussaint explains to The Real News how important it is for The Bank of the South to strengthen Latin America

- The state of Vermont will not be going through with a single-payer health care system because, as Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin said, it is too expensive

- Robert Reich: “The Coin of the Realm: How Inside Traders Are Rigging America

- Egypt announced it would receive financial support from the European Union to develop its tourism industry; Never heard of something like that before…

- Russian President Vladimir Putin: I am not responsible for the decline in our currency, but we will get through this

Labor’s a-Brewing

- Another Wal-Mart worker is suing the retail giant after being given tasks involving chemicals despite acknowledging she was pregnant

- A BBC investigative report discovered the horrific conditions Chinese workers experience when constructing iPhones

Politics US

Washington USA

- Journalist Greg Palast joins The Real News to report on how people were denied the chance to vote in the last election for voter fraud suspicion despite not committing such offenses

- Amy Goodman: “Obama and the Beginning of the End of the Cuban Embargo

- The Affordable Care Act is, as a person involved with the insurance system, a “complete farce” tricking Americans into believing it can actually change the health care system.

- Jason Leopold: “The Weird Saga of the Other ‘Smoking Gun’ Torture Report the CIA Still Has Under Wraps

- President Obama appoints the second-highest official in the CIA to his national security team

- A very thorough review of the most recent trial against journalist Barrett Brown; a case, I must note, is scary considering the consequences if Brown is found guilty

- Ray McGovern: “Clashing Face-to-Face on Torture

- It’s official: President Obama signs a sanctions bill against Venezuela into law

- The Internal Revenue Service warned cuts to their budget would delay tax refunds for Americans; What is this concept of providing money to Americans? My neoliberal handbook doesn’t say anything about that.

- Glenn Greenwald: “Jeb Bush v. Hillary Clinton: The Perfectly Illustrative Election

Anytown USA

- Glen Ford: “Getting Rid of Al Sharpton and the Misleadership Class

The Real News reports on the Millions March in Oakland, Calif., last Saturday with the responses of people involved with the march

- Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association in New York City (the union for NYPD officers), said the enemies of the NYPD would face “extreme discretion.” He also criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio for running a “revolution.”

- A judge overturned a 70-year-old case where a 14-year-old black teenager was accused of murdering two white girls. The teen was executed in 1944, but justice was served, uh, in a way.

- Rania Khalek: “‘Liberation for all’: Why Palestine is a key issue on the streets of Ferguson

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

- A very thoughtful article on the issue of homelessness from people walking by them to what folks can do to help

- With the War on Drugs considered a failure, you would officials would respond to issues of heroin as a public emergency. Nope! It’s a war on heroin now.

The Second Sex

- In Boston, a driver contracted with Uber was charged with sexually assaulting and kidnapping a woman. There are more charges of course.

Planet Earth

- Pew: Sixty percent of Americans say it is important to expand alternative energy sources rather than continue with oil and natural gas

- Add Quebec to the list of places deciding not to allow fracking on their land; Great to hear

- A new study found around one in four Americans can name health diseases caused by climate change

- The tragedy of the climate crisis in California is how under-reported it is despite being a significant concern to the world

Mixed Bag

- Gallup: Who do Americans view as the most ethical and honest? Nurses. The least ethical and honest? Congressional lawmakers; Ratings of police were low due to the low support by non-whites

- At the end of the day, aside from the release of the personal data, the information revealed within Sony Pictures Entertainment was worth it

- A new study found most movies for children include death of significant characters

Break Time

- Carol of the Bells [David Benoit]

The Roundup for December 17th, 2014

By: Wednesday December 17, 2014 3:08 pm

Hey folks. Since I have just one more final tomorrow, I’ve decided to abridge the Roundup for today. In addition, I was worried I’ve stacked the Roundup over the previous days so if feel it has been like that, I guess you could catch up with the previous days.

Happy Birthday Chelsea Manning!

International Politics


- As you may have heard earlier today, the U.S. and Cuba announced a dramatic shift in diplomatic relations with each other. You can read Raul Castro’s speech on it here. So funny to watch the Cuban exiles get angry and grumpy.

- Jason Leopold: “Will Cuba Now Cash 55 Years’ Worth of Guantanamo Rent Checks?

- Gallup: The most support for police can be found in both Iceland and Switzerland, both tied at 91 percent. The least support is in Mexico with 46 support.

Middle East

- The U.S. led more than 60 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq since Dec. 15, a Monday.

- An organization following events in Syria said there were Afghanis fighting with the Syrian government

Asia and Oceania

- Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif: I will vow to take down every member of the Taliban in response to the massacre they cause yesterday


- Gallup: Here’s something interesting. Just 10 percent of Ukrainians say the country should reclaim Crimea. 34 percent say the country should not even bother.

- After a court in Europe ruled the status of Hamas a terrorist group should be re-evaluated, the U.S. recommended keeping sanctions as is against the group. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said European “learned nothing” from the Holocaust.

- The EU, meanwhile, voted to recognize Palestine, which I am certain Israel will also not be happy about but whatever

- A far-right politician in Sweden said Jews cannot be Swedes unless they renounce their Jewish identity; In the liberal paradise of Sweden no less. Just goes to show how even the most reactionary can exist in very liberal places

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

- After decades of fighting, FARC rebels in Colombia announced a indefinite ceasefire with the government; Let’s see if this holds up

Surveillance Planet

- A U.S. official admitted the hackers behind the attack on Sony may never be caught due to the difficulty of finding them

- North Korea may not actually be behind the attack nor is “The Interview” their target. However, some U.S. officials say North Korea is behind the attack.

Financial Matters

- Due to low oil prices, Nigeria and Canada are just two examples of countries whose currency is suffering.

- Iraq asked if it could defer reparations for destroyed oil facilities in Kuwait during the Gulf War because of declining oil prices.

- The Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen said interest rates will still be near zero percent for the first quarter of 2015, perhaps even longer

Labor’s a-Brewing

- Gallup: Twenty-seven percent of federal employees in the U.S. are engaged in their job compared to 31 percent non-federal employees

- A new report found the U.S. trade deficit with China was to blame for 3.2 millions jobs in the U.S. lost

- As cities across California raise the minimum wage, Sacramento is unable to do so because Mayor Kevin Johnson, a Democrat, prefers getting a task force before making any decision.

Politics US

Washington USA

- Gareth Porter: “How the CIA Covered Up Its Lie on Torture and bin Laden

- The last disputed race in the House finished as a Republican in Arizona scored a seat for the GOP

- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): The problems in the U.S. are too numerous and we need a “political revolution“; And to get there we need what?

- Henry Giroux: “America’s Addiction to Torture

- A great, yet short article on six different possibilities for reforming communities without the use of cops

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

- J.K. Rowling: “Isn’t it time we left orphanages to fairytales?

Planet Earth

- Huge news out of New York as Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration decided to ban hydrofracking

Mixed Bag

- A potential thriller film about life in North Korea was scrapped over “The Interview” fiasco

- A new study found, when in relationships, women are more empathetic than men

Break Time

- Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) [Darlene Love]

LIVE: President Obama Delivers Remarks on Shift in US Policy Toward Cuba

By: Wednesday December 17, 2014 8:47 am

President Barack Obama is making a statement on a shift in United States policy toward Cuba. The shift comes after US Agency for International Development contractor Alan Gross and three members of the “Cuban Five” were freed from Cuba and the US in a prisoner swap.

The Associated Press reports, according to unnamed US officials leaking details ahead of Obama’s statement, that the US and Cuba have “agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties.”

Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama will be making addresses to their countries simultaneously.

“The two leaders spoke by phone for more than 45 minutes Tuesday, the first substantive presidential-level discussion between the US and Cuba since 1961,” according to AP.

For over a year, “secret talks” between the two countries have been ongoing in Canada and the Vatican. “Pope Francis was personally engaged in the process and sent separate letters to Obama and Castro this summer urging them to restart relations.” (Maybe Pope Francis and Raul Castro can proceed to escalate pressure for the closure of Guantanamo Bay prison facilities and the entire US military base.)

A US embassy will reopen in Havana. Travel bans will be eased for “family visits, official US government business and educational activities,” however, tourism bans will remain in effect.

Additionally, “Licensed American travelers to Cuba will now be able to return to the U.S. with $400 in Cuban goods, including tobacco and alcohol products worth less than $100 combined. This means the long-standing ban on importing Cuban cigars is over, although there are still limits.”

This, of course, means that all the Cold War hawks will come out of the woodwork today and appear on cable and network news programs. It will also be especially maddening when they appear as guests on “Meet the Press” this weekend.

And let’s wait and see what happens before calling this an “overhaul.”

The Roundup for December 16th, 2014

By: Tuesday December 16, 2014 4:58 pm

What’s going on folks? Can you believe it’s less than 10 days until Christmas Day? International Politics Overall – The Physicians for Human Rights called for those physicians involved with the torture program in the U.S. to be investigated for war crimes – Juan Cole: “Enter the Dragon: China offers Iraq aerial strikes on the [...]

The Roundup for December 15th, 2014

By: Monday December 15, 2014 6:22 pm

Almost there to the end in terms of finals. How about you? International Politics Overall – Chris Hedges: “ISIS—the New Israel” – President Barack Obama: We will ensure the Islamic State will not find a safe haven and they will be eradicated Middle East – Five Palestinians were arrested by Israeli authorities after allegedly planning [...]

“No Justice! No Peace!” Protesters Rally Against Police Brutality At Millions March NYC

By: Monday December 15, 2014 10:21 am

More than 50,000 people gathered at Washington Square Park on Dec. 13 for Millions March NYC, which was organized by 23-year-old Synead Nichols and 19-year-old Umaara Iynaas Elliott. The march was organized in response to the recent lack of indictments against officers Daniel Pantaleo and Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown and Eric [...]

The Weekend Roundup for December 13-14th, 2014

By: Sunday December 14, 2014 1:41 pm

Hey there folks! Enjoy your day today. International Politics Overall – If we take a step back and analyze the problems in the U.S. and in Mexico, there are similarities in terms of the state oppressing its citizens. These similarities are something citizens in both countries are aware of and are thankfully rebelling against. – [...]

The Roundup for December 12th, 2014

By: Friday December 12, 2014 5:09 pm

Hey folks, how are you this Friday? Thankfully the weekend is here, right? International Politics Overall – As a result of new nuclear power plants to be constructed in Turkey, Russia’s relationship with Turkey will be strengthened; Yemen is another country Russia would like to improve ties with – A former president of OPEC said [...]

The Roundup for December 11th, 2014

By: Thursday December 11, 2014 6:08 pm

Hey there folks, how are you? It’s been 14 years since Bush v. Gore International Politics Overall – Germany announced it would send 100 troops to the Kurdish region of Iraq to train those fighters against the Islamic State; NATO, meanwhile, said they will review Iraq’s request to improve their military – An Iranian official [...]

The Roundup for December 10th, 2014

By: Wednesday December 10, 2014 4:34 pm

Howdy folks! I’m almost a week away from being free for a month. International Politics Overall – Slavoj Zizek: “How the United States Rolls” – Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the release of the Senate torture report highlights how the U.S. is the “symbol of tyranny against humanity” – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad praised [...]

The Roundup for December 9th, 2014

By: Tuesday December 9, 2014 5:12 pm

Howdy there folks. How is your day today? International Politics Overall – A U.N. official said there were “constructive” talks with Syrian rebels to stop fighting in Aleppo, Syria Middle East – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel more airstrikes against the Islamic State are needed; Meanwhile, seven people were [...]

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